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Prostitution sting snares El Monte official

The city manager is among 30 people arrested in an undercover operation in nearby Pomona.

October 17, 2009|Seema Mehta

El Monte's city manager was among 30 people arrested in a prostitution sting in Pomona, officials from both cities said Friday.

James Mussenden, 59, has been El Monte city manager since 2006, and City Council members have called an emergency meeting today to discuss putting the Glendora resident on leave, said Councilman Art Barrios.

"I talked to him this morning," Barrios said. "He just mentioned he had a problem."

Councilwoman Emily Ishigaki said she believes that Mussenden will resign and that the council will appoint an interim city manager.

"This has just been a mind-boggling situation," said Ishigaki, who spent time with Mussenden at a government meeting Thursday before the arrest. "I'm stunned. I just can't believe this. I never expected this, never, never, never."

A message left for Mussenden at his home was not returned. According to his biography on the city of El Monte's website, the married grandfather has worked for the city 26 years and is active in the El Monte Kiwanis Club and the Boys & Girls Club of the San Gabriel Valley.

The Thursday night sting occurred on Holt Avenue, a major thoroughfare in Pomona that has drawn complaints for being a meeting place for people looking to trade sex for money, said Lt. Alex Rilloraza of the Pomona Police Department. Undercover officers from the vice squad posed as streetwalkers and johns.

A total of 30 men and women were taken into custody between 6 p.m. and midnight, he said. The women arrested on suspicion of prostitution were taken to the city jail. The men arrested on suspicion of soliciting were issued citations and released, unless they had other charges pending, Rilloraza said.


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